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Apple might have us believe that iCloud is the end-all, be-all of sync, but not everyone feels comfortable storing valuable data in the cloud. Using iCloud on the Mac requires OS X Lion, leaving Snow Leopard users out in the cold. And of course, if you dare to use an Android phone, you’re out of luck. This is where SyncMate hopes to find its niche, stretching beyond Apple’s own modest ambitions.
Billed as an “all-in-one sync tool for Mac,” SyncMate tries to be the Swiss Army knife of data sync, pushing content between select mobile devices, smartphones, cloud storage services (Dropbox, Google, even iCloud) and other computers. While the free version handles the most basic data needs (contacts and calendars), the paid Expert edition juggles a much wider variety of data sources, including external hard drives and other computers. It’s also on the Mac App Store as SyncMate Plus ($39.99), but that has a different feature set due to Apple’s restrictions--for a comparison see http://mac.eltima.com/syncmate-plus.html.
SyncMate Expert offers granular controls for each device.
SyncMate Expert can sync to-dos, Safari bookmarks, Entourage notes, Mail notes, iPhoto and DRM-free iTunes content, videos, even entire folders, which comes in handy for keeping content in sync between two computers.
First you launch SyncMate Expert on the Mac to configure the “connections” you want to sync, and in some cases, install client software at the other end, such as a free Android app or another copy of the application running on a second Mac. Connections appear across the top; each one can be custom configured with different data types below.
Once you decide what you want to sync, you can turn on AutoSync to automate the process whenever SyncMate is open on the connected device, at predefined intervals, or whenever the application is hidden or in the background. If you want to sync manually, the software can remind you.
We had no problem syncing folders between a MacBook Pro and iMac using our local Wi-Fi network, but connecting to our Android smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, was another matter. SyncMate Expert refused to recognize the handset wirelessly, despite everything being set up properly, either by automatic discovery or by manually entering the correct IP address. As soon as we plugged in via USB, the device was immediately added as a connection and we were able to sync an iTunes playlist, iPhoto album, and contacts with ease.
Adding a second Mac as a connection is simple.
iOS devices and iPods require USB to connect; there’s unfortunately no support for the kind of wireless sync iTunes 10.6 allows, and no support at all for Windows Phone 7 handsets, although SyncMate Expert does handle discontinued Windows Mobile and Nokia S40 smartphones, BlackBerry handsets, and even the Sony PSP.
The bottom line. While it’s not quite as “set it and forget it” as iCloud for basic data, SyncMate is well suited to Mac users who want full control over when and how their contacts and calendars get synced. The free version is best suited to this basic situation, while SyncMate Expert is a compelling solution for power users looking to keep other data types synced in even more places, assuming your devices are compatible.
Mac OS 10.5 or later, compatible devices via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB
Free version offers basic contact and calender sync to determine if Expert version is right for you. Granular control over what data gets synced, including one-way and two-way options. Allows Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard users to sync data between computers and devices.
No support for Windows Phone 7. Andriods sync via Wi-Fi did not work for us, despite having everything set up properly. No data sync from Aperture (iPhoto only).